Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editors: Andrew Griffin, Helen Ostovich
Not Peer Reviewed

All's Well That Ends Well (Modern)

Flourish. Enter King, [Countess], Lafeu, the two French Lords, with Attendant [Gentlemen].
King We lost a jewel of her, and our esteem
Was made much poorer by it, but your son,
As mad in folly, lacked the sense to know
2700Her estimation home.
Countess 'Tis past, my liege,
And I beseech your majesty to make it
Natural rebellion, done i'th' blade of youth,
When oil and fire, too strong for reason's force,
2705O'erbears it and burns on.
King My honored lady,
I have forgiven and forgotten all,
Though my revenges were high bent upon him
And watched the time to shoot.
2710Lafeu This I must say,
But first I beg my pardon: the young lord
Did to his majesty, his mother, and his lady
Offence of mighty note, but to himself
The greatest wrong of all. He lost a wife
2715Whose beauty did astonish the survey
Of richest eyes, whose words all ears took captive,
Whose dear perfection hearts that scorned to serve
Humbly called mistress.
King Praising what is lost
2720Makes the remembrance dear. [To attending Gentleman] Well, call him hither.
We are reconciled, and the first view shall kill
All repetition. Let him not ask our pardon:
The nature of his great offence is dead,
And deeper than oblivion we do bury
2725Th'incensing relics of it. Let him approach
A stranger, no offender, and inform him
So 'tis our will he should.
Attendant Gentleman I shall, my liege.
King [To Lafeu] What says he to your daughter? 2730Have you spoke?
Lafeu All that he is hath reference to your highness.
King Then shall we have a match. I have letters sent me,
That sets him high in fame.
2735Lafeu He looks well on't.
King I am not a day of season,
For thou mayst see a sunshine and a hail
In me at once. But to the brightest beams
Distracted clouds give way, so stand thou forth.
2740The time is fair again.
Bertram My high-repented blames,
Dear sovereign, pardon to me.
King All is whole.
Not one word more of the consumèd time!
2745Let's take the instant by the forward top,
For we are old, and on our quick'st decrees
Th'inaudible, and noiseless foot of time
Steals, ere we can effect them. You remember
The daughter of this lord?
2750Bertram Admiringly, my liege, at first
I stuck my choice upon her, ere my heart
Durst make too bold a herald of my tongue.
Where the impression of mine eye infixing,
Contempt his scornful perspective did lend me,
2755Which warped the line of every other favor,
Scorned a fair color, or expressed it stolen,
Extended or contracted all proportions
To a most hideous object. Thence it came
That she -- whom all men praised, and whom myself,
2760Since I have lost, have loved -- was in mine eye
The dust that did offend it.
King Well excused.
That thou didst love her strikes some scores away
From the great count, but love that comes too late,
2765Like a remorseful pardon slowly carried,
To the great sender turns a sour offence,
Crying, "That's good that's gone." Our rash faults
Make trivial price of serious things we have,
Not knowing them until we know their grave.
2770Oft our displeasures, to ourselves unjust,
Destroy our friends, and after weep their dust.
Our own love, waking, cries to see what's done,
While shameful hate sleeps out the afternoon.
Be this sweet Helen's knell, and now forget her.
2775Send forth your amorous token for fair Maudlin.
The main consents are had, and here we'll stay
To see our widower's second marriage day --
Which better than the first, O dear heaven, bless,
Or, ere they meet, in me, O nature, cease.
2780Lafeu Come on, my son, in whom my house's name
Must be digested. Give a favor from you
To sparkle in the spirits of my daughter,
That she may quickly come. [Bertram removes a ring from his finger and gives it to Lafeu.] By my old beard
And ev'ry hair that's on't, Helen that's dead
2785Was a sweet creature. Such a ring as this,
The last that ere I took her leave at court,
I saw upon her finger.
Bertram Hers it was not.
King Now pray you let me see it. For mine eye,
2790While I was speaking, oft was fastened to't. [Lafeu gives the ring to the King.]
This ring was mine, and when I gave it Helen,
I bade her if her fortunes ever stood
Necessitied to help, that by this token
I would relieve her. Had you that craft to reave her
2795Of what should stead her most?
Bertram My gracious sovereign,
Howe'er it pleases you to take it so,
The ring was never hers.
Countess Son, on my life,
2800I have seen her wear it, and she reckoned it
At her life's rate.
Lafeu I am sure I saw her wear it.
Bertram You are deceived, my lord, she never saw it.
In Florence was it from a casement thrown me,
2805Wrapped in a paper which contained the name
Of her that threw it. Noble she was, and thought
I stood engaged, but when I had subscribed
To mine own fortune, and informed her fully
I could not answer in that course of honor
2810As she had made the overture, she ceased
In heavy satisfaction, and would never
Receive the ring again.
King Plutus himself,
That knows the tinct and multiplying med'cine,
2815Hath not in nature's mystery more science
Than I have in this ring. 'Twas mine, 'twas Helen's,
Whoever gave it you. Then if you know
That you are well-acquainted with yourself,
Confess 'twas hers, and by what rough enforcement
2820You got it from her. She called the saints to surety
That she would never put it from her finger,
Unless she gave it to yourself in bed,
Where you have never come, or sent it us
Upon her great disaster.
2825Bertram She never saw it.
King Thou speakst it falsely, as I love mine honor,
And mak'st conjectural fears to come into me,
Which I would fain shut out, if it should prove
That thou art so inhumane -- 'twill not prove so --
2830And yet I know not. Thou didst hate her deadly,
And she is dead, which nothing but to close
Her eyes myself could win me to believe,
More than to see this ring. [To the French Lords] Take him away.
My fore-past proofs, howe'er the matter fall,
2835Shall tax my fears of little vanity,
Having vainly feared too little. Away with him!
We'll sift this matter further.
Bertram If you shall prove
This ring was ever hers, you shall as easy
2840Prove that I husbanded her bed in Florence,
Where yet she never was.
[Exit Bertram under guard.]
Enter a Gentleman, [the Austringer].
King [Aside] I'm wrapped in dismal thinkings.
Austringer Gracious sovereign,
2845Whether I have been to blame or no, I know not.
Here's a petition from a Florentine,
Who hath for four or five removes come short
To tender it herself. I undertook it,
Vanquished thereto by the fair grace and speech
2850Of the poor suppliant, who by this I know
Is here attending. Her business looks in her
With an importing visage, and she told me,
In a sweet verbal brief, it did concern
Your highness with herself.
[At the King's signal, he reads] a letter.
Upon his many protestations to marry me when his wife was dead, I blush to say it, he won me. Now is the Count Rous sillon a widower, his vows are forfeited to me, and my honor's paid to him. He stole from Florence, taking no 2860leave, and I follow him to his country for justice. Grant it me, O King! In you it best lies. Otherwise a seducer flourishes and a poor maid is undone. Diana Capilet.
Lafeu I will buy me a son-in-law in a fair, and toll 2865for this. I'll none of him.
King The heavens have thought well on thee, Lafeu,
To bring forth this discov'ry. -- [To Attendants] Seek these suitors.
Go speedily, and bring again the count. Enter Bertram [under guard].
2870[To the Countess] I am afeared the life of Helen, lady,
Was foully snatched.
Countess Now justice on the doers.
King I wonder, sir, sith wives are monsters to you,
And that you fly them as you swear them lordship,
2875Yet you desire to marry. -- What woman's that?
Enter Diana, [followed by] Widow and Paroles.
Diana I am, my lord, a wretched Florentine,
Derivèd from the ancient Capilet.
My suit, as I do understand, you know,
2880And therefore know how far I may be pitied.
Widow I am her mother, sir, whose age and honor
Both suffer under this complaint we bring,
And both shall cease without your remedy.
King Come hither, count. Do you know these 2885women?
Bertram My lord, I neither can nor will deny
But that I know them. Do they charge me further?
Diana [To Bertram] Why do you look so strange upon your wife?
Bertram [To the King] She's none of mine, my lord.
2890Diana If you shall marry,
You give away this hand, and that is mine;
You give away heaven's vows, and those are mine;
You give away myself, which is known mine,
For I by vow am so embodied yours
2895That she which marries you must marry me,
Either both or none.
Lafeu [To Bertram] Your reputation comes too short for my daughter. You are no husband for her!
Bertram [To Lafeu] My lord, this is a fond and desp'rate creature
2900Whom sometime I have laughed with. [To the King] Let your highness
Lay a more noble thought upon mine honor
Than for to think that I would sink it here.
King Sir, for my thoughts, you have them ill to friend
Till your deeds gain them fairer. Prove your honor.
2905Then in my thought it lies.
Diana Good my lord,
Ask him upon his oath if he does think
He had not my virginity.
King What sayst thou to her?
2910Bertram She's impudent, my lord,
And was a common gamester to the camp.
Diana He does me wrong, my lord. If I were so,
He might have bought me at a common price.
Do not believe him. Oh, behold this ring,
2915Whose high respect and rich validity
Did lack a parallel. Yet for all that
He gave it to a commoner o'th' camp,
If I be one.
Countess He blushes, and 'tis hit.
2920Of six preceding ancestors, that gem,
Conferred by testament to th' sequent issue,
Hath it been owed and worn. This is his wife;
That ring's a thousand proofs.
King Methought you said
2925You saw one here in court could witness it.
Diana I did, my lord, but loath am to produce
So bad an instrument: his name's Paroles.
Lafeu I saw the man today, if man he be.
King Find him, and bring him hither.
2930Bertram What of him?
He's quoted for a most perfidious slave,
With all the spots o'th' world taxed and debauched,
Whose nature sickens. But, to speak a truth,
Am I or that or this for what he'll utter,
2935That will speak anything?
King She hath that ring of yours.
Bertram I think she has; certain it is I liked her,
And boarded her i'th' wanton way of youth.
She knew her distance and did angle for me,
2940Madding my eagerness with her restraint,
As all impediments in fancy's course
Are motives of more fancy, and, in fine,
Her inf'nite cunning OR insuite coming OR insuite cunning OR infinite conning with her modern grace
Subdued me to her rate: she got the ring,
2945And I had that which any inferior might
At market price have bought.
Diana I must be patient.
You that have turned off a first so noble wife
May justly diet me. I pray you yet --
2950Since you lack virtue, I will lose a husband --
Send for your ring, I will return it home,
And give me mine again.
Bertram I have it not.
King What ring was yours, I pray you?
2955Diana Sir, much like the same upon your finger.
King Know you this ring? This ring was his of late.
Diana And this was it I gave him, being abed.
King The story then goes false. You threw it him
Out of a casement.
2960Diana I have spoke the truth.
Enter Paroles.
Bertram My lord, I do confess the ring was hers.
King You boggle shrewdly. Every feather starts you.
[To Diana] Is this the man you speak of?
Diana Ay, my lord.
2965King [To Paroles] Tell me, sirrah, but tell me true, I charge you,
Not fearing the displeasure of your master,
Which, on your just proceeding, I'll keep off:
By him and by this woman here, what know you?
Paroles So please your majesty, my master hath been an 2970honorable gentleman. Tricks he hath had in him, which gentlemen have.
King Come, come, to th' purpose. Did he love this woman?
Paroles Faith, sir, he did love her, but how?
2975King How, I pray you?
Paroles He did love her, sir, as a gentleman loves a woman.
King How is that?
Paroles He loved her, sir, and loved her not.
King As thou art a knave and no knave! What an 2980equivocal companion is this?
Paroles I am a poor man and at your majesty's command.
Lafeu He's a good drum, my lord, but a naughty orator.
2985Diana Do you know he promised me marriage?
Paroles Faith, I know more than I'll speak.
King But wilt thou not speak all thou knowst?
Paroles Yes, so please your majesty: I did go between them as I said, but more than that he loved her, for 2990indeed he was mad for her, and talked of Satan, and of limbo, and of furies, and I know not what. Yet I was in that credit with them at that time that I knew of their going to bed, and of other motions, as promising her marriage, and things which would derive me ill will to 2995speak of. Therefore I will not speak what I know.
King Thou hast spoken all already, unless thou canst say they are maried, but thou art too fine in thy evidence; therefore, stand aside. -- [To Diana] This ring, you say, was yours?
Diana Ay, my good lord.
3000King Where did you buy it? Or who gave it you?
Diana It was not given me, nor I did not buy it.
King Who lent it you?
Diana It was not lent me neither.
King Where did you find it then?
3005Diana I found it not.
King If it were yours by none of all these ways,
How could you give it him?
Diana I never gave it him.
Lafeu This woman's an easy glove, my lord: she goes 3010off and on at pleasure.
King This ring was mine. I gave it his first wife.
Diana It might be yours or hers for ought I know.
King Take her away. I do not like her now.
To prison with her, and away with him.
3015Unless thou tellst me where thou hadst this ring,
Thou diest within this hour.
Diana I'll never tell you.
King Take her away.
Diana I'll put in bail, my liege.
3020King I think thee now some common customer.
Diana By Jove, if ever I knew man, 'twas you.
King Wherefore hast thou accused him all this while?
Diana Because he's guilty, and he is not guilty.
He knows I am no maid, and he'll swear to't.
3025I'll swear I am a maid, and he knows not.
Great King, I am no strumpet, by my life:
I am either maid, or else this old man's wife.
[She gestures to Lafeu OR to the King.]
King She does abuse our ears. To prison with her.
Diana Good mother, fetch my bail. [Exit the Widow.] Stay, royal sir.
3030The jeweller that owes the ring is sent for,
And he shall surety me. But for this lord,
Who hath abused me as he knows himself,
Though yet he never harmed me, here I quit him.
He knows himself my bed he hath defiled,
3035And at that time he got his wife with child.
Dead though she be, she feels her young one kick.
So, there's my riddle, one that's dead is quick,
And now behold the meaning.
3040King Is there no exorcist
Beguiles the truer office of mine eyes?
Is't real that I see?
Helen No, my good lord,
'Tis but the shadow of a wife you see,
3045The name, and not the thing.
Bertram Both, both. Oh, pardon!
Helen Oh, my good lord, when I was like this maid,
I found you wondrous kind. There is your ring,
And, look you, here's your letter. This it says:
3050"When from my finger you can get this ring,
And are by me with child," etc[A48]. This is done.
Will you be mine now you are doubly won?
Bertram If she, my liege, can make me know this clearly,
I'll love her dearly, ever, ever dearly.
3055Helen If it appear not plain and prove untrue,
Deadly divorce step between me and you.
[To the Countess] Oh, my dear mother, do I see you living?
Lafeu Mine eyes smell onions; I shall weep anon.
[To Paroles] Good Tom Drum, lend me a handkercher. 3060So, I thank thee. Wait on me home; I'll make sport with thee. Let thy curtsies alone -- they are scurvy ones.
King Let us from point to point this story know,
To make the even truth in pleasure flow.
If thou be'st yet a fresh uncropped flower,
3065Choose thou thy husband, and I'll pay thy dower.
For I can guess that, by thy honest aid,
Thou keptst a wife herself, thyself a maid.
Of that and all the progress more and less,
Resolvedly more leisure shall express.
3070All yet seems well, and, if it end so meet
The bitter past, more welcome is the sweet.